Building a winning team

In marriage most of us want to be on the same team as our spouse.  As a matter of fact, often we just assume that we will be. But once we move forward in the marriage, we begin to see that it is not as easy as we thought.

So what do you do to position your marriage as a winning team? First, let’s define what a team is for marriage.  In marriage a team consists of 2 people with complementary skills coming together to complete a task.

Did you get that?  That means you and your spouse don’t necessarily need the SAME skills, but your skills should COMPLIMENT one another.  Sounds simple enough but how many times do you get frustrated because your spouse doesn’t SEE things or DO things the way you do?

Remember this! God never intended for YOU to marry YOU….He intended for you to marry someone that allows Him to do what He wants to do through you. That leads us to the other part of that definition: coming together to complete a task.

Some of us need to get an elevated view of our marriage….WE ARE TOGETHER TO COMPLETE A TASK!!! We are to show the beauty of Christ & the Church.  How YOU do that is different from how someone else does it, but it’s important that you get clear on your task!

So let’s look at the components of a team.  We will talk about what are the habits of a losing team, how to build a winning team and lastly how to be the MVP – most valuable player – on your team!

6 Habits of a LOSING Team

  1. Losing teams allow one LOSE to define their entire season. In other words, they develop an expectation of losing.  So in your marriage for example that      means you believe that just because you and your spouse HAVE had hard      times, you will ALWAYS have hard times.   That is a losing mindset.
  2. Losing teams stop practicing or preparing for all the different scenarios they may face.  So you know that every time your mother comes in town you and your spouse have an argument but instead of identifying what the issues are and making a plan to deal with it, you just let it happen.  Losing teams stop prepping for the challenge situations.
  3. Losing teams lose sight of the bigger picture.  This falls in line with getting shook up because of one lose instead of remembering we are still in line for the championship.  In marriage, don’t forget what the bigger picture is in your romance.
  4. Losing teams stop listening  to their coach. I want you to think of all the sports greats! From Serena to Jordan to LeBron to Gabby Douglas, winners listen to what their coach has to say.  In marriage what is your ultimate coach (God!) saying about your marriage? Tune in to your coach for direction!
  5. Losing teams stop communicating. Because of the frustration they are feeling, losing teams stop connecting and communicating. This happens in marriage too. We stop communication  with one another and then wonder why we aren’t winning.  Winner requires open and honest communication and feedback.

So far we’ve talked about what a team is and then habits of a losing team. Now let’s talk about what it will take for your team to win!

How to build a winning team

  1. Make sure you are on a team that is compatible! A winning team knows what skills each of their players have, they don’t fight one another on the differences in their skills and they intentionally pay attention to how each player’s skills      can best serve the team.  Follow this same script in your relationship!
  2. Make sure you Identify what a WIN is! Of course we want to have a victory, but sometimes a “win” is bigger than that.  Maybe this year a ‘win’ for your marriage is to not necessarily become debt free but to at least save a certain amount of money.  But if you aren’t clear on the win, you may feel defeated when you actually should be celebrating.
  3. Make sure you constantly revisit the rules for your team. How do you govern your relationship?  What is okay and what is not okay? You cannot  win if you don’t know the rules!
  4. Make sure you develop a winning strategy! Every team that wins a championship had a strategy that allowed them to win! In your marriage you and your spouse need a strategy that can give you the plays you need to move towards victory! (Remember by signing up for our “I believe in marriage” database, you can get the  template we use for a family strategic plan!)
  5. Make sure you find the right coach. All of us are being coached by someone whether it’s your best  friend, your mother or your pastor.  Make sure you are sensitive to whose in your ‘ear’ because that person can either help your team win or sabotage all of your efforts. As mentioned above, God is our ultimate coach, but you also need another person that can coach you and your spouse.
  6. Make sure you spend time with your teammate.  Winning teams are made up of players who know one another.  Having camaraderie is important for      victory.  You and your spouse need  to spend time together and really learn one another if you are going to      win!

Now that you know what a team is, habits of a losing team and how to build your team to win, it’s time for you to learn how to be the MVP of your team!

4 characteristics of an MVP – most valuable player:

  • The MVP puts the team’s  goals above their own! Sure, you are superstar material.  But if you are going to be the MVP you need  to make sure that you know when to put your team’s needs above your own.   Maybe this is not the time to quit your job to start that new business;   maybe this year instead of your annual girls’ trip, you need to take a family trip.  Putting the teams needs     first will get you closer to MVP status!
  • The MVP is willing to take up the slack when their teammate needs them.  Sometimes your teammate might be in a tough situation or struggling in an area.       Can you help them carry their weight when they are having a hard      time handling it on their own?
  • The MVP is consistent and reliable.  When it is time for your teammate to throw you the ball are you there ready to catch it? The MVP is  not shaky or shady. The MVP is in the right place at the right time.
  • The MVP knows their  position and they play it well. Whether their position is a point guard or a forward, the MVP knows the role they are to be playing. That’s the same in marriage.  Are you clear on your position in the marriage? Do you know the plays and are you playing the well?  The MVP doesn’t try and play      someone else’s position because they are busy mastering the one God gave      them!

Take some time to review this information.  Discuss it with your significant other.  Identify areas that your team needs to work on! I want to hear from you! Follow us on twitter: @IBIM and let us know your thoughts!


Separation, Sabbatical or Stay the Course

PictureRev. Larraine Forrester is co-founder of A Relationship Ministry (ARM).   Along with her husband Rev. Larraine has for over 12 years counseled couples either helping the engaged to establish a strong foundation for their union or the married to enhance their relationships. Rev. Larraine also works as a Wife Coach and shares wisdom gained during the past 28 plus years of marriage and Seminary.  You can learn more about the Forrester’s by visiting:



When communication turns to conflict, love turns to loathing, respect turns to resentment.

Marriage can be one of the most fulfilling relationships a person can have in life.   In a marriage a couple has opportunity to increase their own value by sharing with, caring for, giving and receiving true love.

However, as with all aspects of life, marriage has ups and downs.  Those who remain married for any amount of time can attest to the fact that marriage can be challenging.  When a couple decides to become one, the process is similar to merging two households.  Some things can stay but some things will have to be thrown out.  Couples will find that even when they have discussed and planned, there will still be many matters, scenarios or possibilities that weren’t considered. People change or perhaps they realize their visions of marriage are drastically different.  Inevitably communication turns to conflict, love turns to loathing, respect turns to resentment and on and on.

When a couple reaches a point where they seem to disagree in too many areas and are not willing to compromise it’s necessary to make some changes.  The question often becomes “Is divorce the answer?”   The “D” word is mentioned quite a bit in marriages as each individual contemplates whether they would be better off single than to remain in a marriage that isn’t fulfilling, but instead failing.

Before one makes the decision to divorce and disregard the commitments made to one another, couples often consider either Separation, Sabbatical.

Separation is usually done with little to no rules with the exception that the couple will change their living arrangements usually one moving out of the home.  The idea is that “time heals all wounds”.   Some separated couples choose to continue living together but in separate bedrooms with no real communication or togetherness.  During a period of separation one or both may decide to see other people.  Unfortunately many separations result in further distance between the two.

A Marriage Sabbatical can be successful as couples determine all the rules before separating.  Each person’s goal is to re-unite in the near future. Before taking a Marriage Sabbatical, Cheryl Jarvis, author of The Marriage Sabbatical, encourages preparation which includes the consideration of:

1. The Wait – Be sure not to leave suddenly.  “Slow change can be the best kind of change.”

2. The Logistics – Consider and plan how the household will be maintained and sustained.  Consider childcare, errands, routine house maintenance, financial obligations etc.

3.  Load Lessening – Try to lighten the load for your spouse: make list, leave detailed written instructions, important contact information etc.

4.  Goal Setting – Determine what you two want to accomplish during the Sabbatical…. Self-help concerns, learning to communicate effectively and taking time to determine one’s own desires.

5. Leave Taking – Try to make leave a smooth process.  Be sure to talk to children and others who will be affected that this is a temporary arrangement.  Try to make the leaving process as smooth as possible.

During a Sabbatical it’s very important that the couple communicates often and that each are accessible.

The third option for couples in crisis is to Stay The Course.  With this option the couple decides to stay together and actively work on themselves and their marriage.  When a couple decides to Stay The Course they both commit to doing the work necessary to make personal changes and changes in the marriage.  In this option the couple benefits from the help of a third party who is experienced and trained in marriage counseling, this person could be a Licensed Psychologist and/or a Spiritual Advisor.   This person should not be a friend nor family member of either.

To Stay The Course requires accountability and that positive progress can be noted.  Each day the couple will make it their goal to implement habits and routines that will foster a true friendship and a sincere love for one another.  As long as there is positive progress and commitment by both the husband and wife, the couple can expect a fulfilling marriage.

3 Signs You & Your Spouse Need a Vacation!


It is summer-time and a great time for you and your spouse to steal some time away just for the two of you! But if you are like many other couples, you often put time alone on the back-burner.  It’s understandable.  There are so many other things that are pressing! The kids summer camp, the family vacation, that big summer project at your job…all of those things are LOUDLY demanding your attention so of course a “luxury” vacation with your spouse just isn’t priority.

But think again!  You and your marriage may NEED to get-away in order for you to stay happy and productive for the rest of the year! Did you know that statistics state that “…due to jobs, kids, TV, the internet, hobbies, and home and family responsibilities, the average married couple spends just 4 minutes a day alone together”?  FOUR MINUTES! You and I both know our marriages need much more than 4 minutes if we are going to last a life-time.

So, it is time for you to re-consider a get-away with your boo!  Keep in mind, your time away doesn’t have to be an elaborate cruise or a 10-day trip away.  You can go away for 24 hours or for the weekend! Log-on to Groupon to find a hotel discount or use your frequent flyer miles for a quick flight to a fun destination! Even a stay-cation in your city will work…! The goal is to get away from the hustle and bustle of life to reconnect and invest in your romance!

Still not convinced?  Here are three signs you and your spouse need a vacation!

 1.  You can’t remember the last time the two of you vacationed alone!

If you’ve been married longer than a year and the last time you remember getting away was your honeymoon, that might be an indicator it is time for you to get away.  Make sure your trip is children free! Fanning the flames of your marriage is critical and children don’t fan the flame, they often put it out.

Many couples get so consumed with the demands of life….work, bills, church, children…they forget the importance of investing in their marriage.  Spending time alone helps to keep the two of you connected and on one accord.

 2.  You are in the midst of, or just came out of a stressful “life” situation!

Whether it is the demands of work, a family crisis or health challenges, stressful situations can often create tension in our marriages.  I have found in my work with couples, that many times it is not even issues in the marriage that cause tension…many times it is other issues that we are dealing with that impact our attitudes and it is then our attitudes that we have towards our spouse that create marital tension.

While we can’t expect to live a life that is problem free, we can make sure we buffer our marriage from the damaging impact of outside problems.  So if you know you (or your spouse) has had a tough time lately, schedule a get-away.  A change in scenery will do a world of good for your relationship.

 3.  Lately you both are easily irritated by one another.

Being in the same space, having the same routine and dealing with the same “life” stuff day in and day out can drive us all crazy, and if we aren’t careful we start to drive each other crazy.  Sometimes it is an easy fix…take some time to get away!

Going on a mini / or extended vacation may be just the cure to the irritability that has been plaguing your relationship.  Now, while you are away, make sure you take time to connect intimately (you know…have a lot of sex!) to help decrease agitation.  Sex plus a new environment will give you the boost you need to reengage in the demands of life.

Your turn! How do you know when you and your spouse need a getaway?


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